He is learning such rather simple, elementary things as, for instance, that a hook is delivered with a hooked left wrist and that a right cross must also be delivered with a bent wrist. Perhaps he thought he was hooking properly but Gore, who likes to move about the ring like a referee, peered closely at him one day and discovered the defect. He set about correcting it. Harris' straight-wristed punches, the jab and right uppercut, seem to come natural to him and are excellent. His left hand is extremely fast, perhaps as fast as Patterson's in single punches. That uppercut, though, may be the key to whatever success Harris will have at Wrigley Field. It is a first-rate blow, and Patterson has been hit repeatedly with right uppercuts in training. Gore is obviously interested in its possibilities. He believes it is his charge's best punch.
Gore first saw Harris fight against Willie Pastrano but did not assume command of his training until it was time to get ready for the Willi Besmanoff fight last October. Until then Harris had most often been described as "awkwardly clever"—an expression that probably meant he confused his opponents and their corners. In training he does not look really awkward and he does not look particularly clever. What he will look like under pressure is another matter. Perhaps the word "awkward" was based on Harris' footwork, which is not of the best. He has had to be taught, for instance, that in retreating he should draw back his right foot first, rather than his left, in order to gain an extra step. (If you want to try this in the living room, extend your left foot forward in the fighter's natural stance. If you draw the left foot back until it is parallel with the right you are as close to your opponent as you were before. If you draw it back past the right foot you are off balance and likely to be knocked down. Draw back the right foot, then the left, and all is well. So much for Arthur Murray.)
Harris is a straight-up fighter, with very little bob or weave to make an opponent miss. For the most part he holds his hands protectively high, with elbows tight to the body, but it was noticed that quite often when he throws a left he raises the right hand, exposing the rib cage. That could be disastrous, for one of Patterson's most devastating combinations starts with a left hook to the body.
THE MAXIM TECHNIQUE
Combinations, incidentally, are one principal difference between the two fighters. Patterson puts his punches together in awesomely complex series, every punch planned to clear the way for another. Harris' best series seems to be the elementary, though effective, 1-2.
Gore hopes to prevent Patterson from using his combinations.
" Harris will keep Patterson on the end of his left hand," the trainer said. "That left hand is very fast, and I don't think Patterson slips or brushes aside a jab too effectively. Joey Maxim used his left hand on him and did all right."
Joey won the official decision, as a matter of fact, though not a newspaperman present agreed with the officials.
There are those who hold that Harris' skills have been underrated, that his moves are better than they look. Certainly his defeat of the very skilled Willie Pastrano would indicate something of the sort. A Harris enthusiast, Frank Godsoe of the Houston Press, kindly listed some Harris moves that bewildered Pastrano:
"1) Roy would slip to the right on Willie's second jab, then slam a right to the body.